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Success Stories

This section provides the chance to read about real individuals and their unique journey in how the GEM Project has helped them to move closer towards employment.


Stroud | GARAS

Ibrahim was a tailor in Syria working at his family owned factory, with over 30 years' experience in this industry. After losing everything due to the situation in Syria, he came over to the UK on the Syrian Resettlement Programme. One of his daughters was also in urgent need of medical attention and so Ibrahim took the plunge and moved to the UK. 

He met his Navigator Developer Sarah through the support he was receiving through GARAS. She discovered that he used to be a tailor, so wanted to help him pursue a career in this field once again. 

Sarah said "I took a chance at contacting Emma Willis, a well-known tailor in Gloucester. Eve with little English his sewing is so great, I thought it was worth seeing if there was an opportunity for Ibrahim. He had to take a test and make two silk shirts which apparently is really hard to sew, but after the test on Thursday I received a call on Friday, offering Ibrahim a position to start the following Monday."

Ibrahim was employed by Emma Willis for a month, but due to the challenges Ibrahim was facing, including language barriers, family emergencies and understanding UK processes and procedures, it was considered best for Ibrahim to become self-employed. Emma Willis provided lots of support and flexibility to allow this to happen and Ibrahim is now operating his tailoring business from Stroud. 

Ibrahim is now a self-employed tailor, with his main contractor being Emma Willis, but it also enables him to take on other clients -Flax- London being another. 

"I've got big dreams to open up my own factory here in the UK to help other refugees in a similar situation to what I was in. I'm so thankful to everyone who has helped me and my family create a new life here including the support and help from Sarah and the GEM Project."  

If you want to know more about the work Ibrahim is doing, need some alterations or even fancy having something special made for that great occasion, please contact the GEM team and we will pass your details across. 


Young Gloucestershire

Phoebe joined the GEM project with a catering qualification and plenty of volunteering experience, but was really struggling to find a job due to having High-Functioning Autism.

“I was really keen to find a job, but with needing some extra support in a role I found it hard to find an employer who was willing to give me a chance. I was getting lots of interviews but not being offered the job.”

Ione, her Navigator Developer supported Phoebe through interview practice and completing an employability qualification, and now Phoebe is working at Hubble Bubble in Gloucester as a waitress.

Manager of Hubble Bubble, Rae Hunt said: “By making a simple adjustment to our training process – including using clear checklists and straightforward wording with Phoebe – we have gained a very valuable member of the team. Phoebe is never late, she works consistently hard with exacting standards and is meticulous in her presentation.”

“We also gave Phoebe a work trial at the start and could instantly see she would be great for the job.  She performed really well in the interview but the work trial really showed us what she was capable of.”

Phoebe commented: “I’ve really enjoyed my whole experience on the GEM Project, the 1:1 support has been great and has helped to find me a job that I enjoy. I even get to prepare some of the food such as their Freak Shakes!”


Cheltenham | Specsavers

James has a learning disability, and six months ago he couldn’t read or write. Keen to work, he had delivered telephone directories in the past and volunteered for many organisations, but his dream was to find a paid job and to be part of a team.  “I handed out lots of CVs, and went for loads of interviews, but nobody wanted me” said James.

In October 2017 James met GEM Navigator Developer Joe through National Star College. “Joe was really helpful. He said I can always talk to him about any concerns, and call him if I want on other jobs in the future. He took me to interview practice, which really helped when I came into Specsavers.” James added.

Specsavers were delighted to create a role for James, who now works in the lab cleaning glasses, putting them in the right cases and getting them ready for collection. “James is such a valued member of the team” said Emily from Specsavers. “He’s reliable, thoughtful and puts a smile on everyone’s face. In the last few months he’s also started recognising letters and numbers more and has been learning to read though Read Easy.  We’re very proud of him.”

“The GEM project has really helped me" James commented. "I’m so happy to finally get a chance. It’s nice that someone can see beyond the disability, and that’s all people like us need”.


Gloucester | Artshape

Max has long had problems with social anxiety, depression and suffered poor mental health, and was more recently diagnosed with Asperger’s.  Because of this, Max had never been able to hold down a “proper job”.

Max was unable to leave the house for a several years due to mental health, but then began spending time at Artshape, and found out about the GEM Project.  “Max is a true artist” commented Donna, GEM Navigator Developer for Artshape.  “My goal was to help Max realise that”.  Around the same time, Max developed a real connection and love for Vultures, and quickly started to combine the two – painting, sketching, drawing.  It had long been Max’s dream to exhibit a collection, but in Max’s own words, Donna “made it seem possible”.

With the help of Donna, Max had the courage to approach the International Centre for Birds of Prey (ICBP) – where many hours had been spent creating works of art – and asked about exhibiting.  A short while later, Max’s dream of a solo exhibition was realised, with the Vulture collection filling a wall in the ICBP café.  Max is “chuffed” to have already sold two pieces – with the money raised from the sales contributing to conservation efforts to save endangered Vultures from disappearing (

Max said “I am now capable of making a contribution to society.  I’ve had to work to deadlines, organise my collection and I’ve also helped to run art workshops.  People now sit and have their coffee being watched by my Vultures.”

You find out more about Max’s work by visiting or @VultureArts on Facebook.


Gloucester | GARAS

Roselyn moved to the UK 15 years ago to seek asylum and was keen to find work, but had to wait for her work permit and didn’t know where to start.  After starting a sewing class at GARAS, Roselyn was introduced to GEM Navigator Developer Sarah.

“I thought the only job I could do would be cleaning, but Sarah talked to me about what else I was interested in and made me realise I could do more.”

Roselyn joined the GEM project in early 2018, and though it took 15 years to get her work permit, she had already started volunteering. She then became interested in the security field and was determined to get her SIA Security Licence. She has completed the Level 2 certificate for working as a Door Supervisor in private security, funded by the GEM project, and is now in the process of getting her licence. 

Roselyn’s final comments: “The GEM Project has been so inspiring, it has given me advice and supported me step by step. I started with no hope but when I got work I knew I could be somebody. I would recommend the GEM project to everyone.”




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